Samsung unveils compact foldable phone, 5G Galaxy S20 to fend off Apple, Huawei

Reuters San Francisco, United States Feb 12, 2020, 05.05 PM(IST)

Samsung Electronics unveils the Z Flip foldable smartphone during Samsung Galaxy Unpacked 2020. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

Samsung's second attempt at a folding phone after a delayed rollout last year comes as the South Korean firm fends off its traditional rival in the premium smartphone market, Apple Inc, along with ascendant Chinese makers such as Huawei that have eaten into its sales in China and Europe.

Samsung Electronics on Tuesday unveiled a foldable smartphone shaped like a large makeup compact and put 5G mobile network capabilities into all of its other flagship devices as it strives to retain the mantle of biggest global phone company.

Samsung's second attempt at a folding phone after a delayed rollout last year comes as the South Korean firm fends off its traditional rival in the premium smartphone market, Apple Inc, along with ascendant Chinese makers such as Huawei that have eaten into its sales in China and Europe.

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Huawei has only released its own folding phones in China, and Apple has yet to release a 5G iPhone of any kind.

Some analysts said sales of Samsung's new flagship series, the Galaxy S20 which feature as many as four powerful cameras will be slightly less than those of its predecessor, expecting foldable phones could eat into some of its sales.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone

Shares of Samsung, which generated 34 per cent of its profit last year from the mobile business and half from its chip business, rose 0.2 per cent in a flat wider market.

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The Galaxy Z Flip, with folding glass, starts as a large square when closed and expands to look like most smartphones. It will start at $1,380 and be available from Friday in purple, gold and black, executives said in San Francisco.

Attendees take photographs of the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip foldable smartphone

Last year's Galaxy Fold, a larger unit that folds like a book and was panned for its construction, had a plastic screen and was priced at nearly $2,000.

Samsung said its three Galaxy S20 phones will be more expensive than predecessors when they launch in March with a starting price of $999.

They will have a 5G option whereas the Z Flip is a 4G phone.

Samsung was the No. 1 smartphone company overall in 2019, with 21.6 per cent of the global market, according to IDC. But it lost that title to Apple in the December quarter, as cheaper prices for the iPhone 11 launched in the third quarter helped the US firm mark its best growth since 2015.

Globally it also faces stiff competition from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, which was a close third in market share in the fourth quarter, although the Chinese company is caught in a US-China battle over security and technology, especially in 5G.